Channel 4 and Sky Sports have today confirmed their 2016 Formula One calendar picks. The picks are as follows:
2016 Schedule Details
March 20th – Australia (Melbourne) – Sky
April 3rd – Bahrain (Sakhir) – Channel 4 and Sky
April 17th – China (Shanghai) – Sky
May 1st – Russia (Sochi) – Sky
May 15th – Spain (Barcelona) – Channel 4 and Sky
May 29th – Monaco (Monaco) – Sky
June 12th – Canada (Montreal) – Sky
June 19th – Europe (Baku) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 3rd – Austria (Red Bull Ring) – Sky
July 10th – Britain (Silverstone) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 24th – Hungary (Budapest) – Channel 4 and Sky
July 31st – Germany (Hockenheim) – Sky
August 28th – Belgium (Spa) – Channel 4 and Sky
September 4th – Italy (Monza) – Channel 4 and Sky
September 18th – Singapore (Marina Bay) – Sky
October 2nd – Malaysia (Sepang) – Channel 4 and Sky
October 9th – Japan (Suzuka) – Sky
October 23rd – USA (Circuit of the Americas) – Sky
October 30th – Mexico (Mexico City) – Channel 4 and Sky
November 13th – Brazil (Interlagos) – Sky
November 27th – Abu Dhabi (Yas Marina) – Channel 4 and Sky
As reported last Thursday, Sky’s team is the same as last season. The notable names missing off Sky’s press release are Natalie Pinkham and Bruno Senna. I would not read too much into Pinkham’s name missing given she was present with Sky at the AUTOSPORT show. Senna’s name missing though may be a surprise. I don’t think it implies that he may be jumping to Channel 4 but one to keep an eye on.
The press release is nearly the same as last season meaning there is not a lot to point out. GP2 and GP3 are back, The F1 Show does not appear to be changing (despite some speculation at the back of last year to the contrary) and testing will be presented in the same format too, it looks like.
On the Channel 4 side of things, no further concrete information beyond the announcement of Whisper Films and David Coulthard last Monday. Unfortunately, there is no concrete information as to how their highlights programming will be scheduled, or the length. As discussed previously, the minimum length for the race highlight shows is two hours in my opinion. I really hope their highlights for Canada, USA and Brazil are as early as feasibly possible otherwise viewing figures could be very low for those three races.
Channel 4’s new Head of F1 (previously Commissioning Editor for Sport) Stephen Lyle said: “We are delighted to announce the full line up of races we will be showing live across 2016. The British Grand Prix is a huge highlight of the sporting calendar and we’re looking forward to covering all the action live from Silverstone this summer.”
Sky’s Head of F1 Martin Turner said: “This season offers everything. More races, more stories and more drama and only on Sky Sports F1 can viewers enjoy the complete story live. All eyes will again be on Lewis Hamilton while Mercedes and Ferrari will go head to head for the Constructors title. Our award-winning coverage will be there from the opening grid to the final chequered flag on our dedicated F1 channel and across our digital platforms.”
Normally I would go through the pick process and how I think it went. However, the picks are almost identical to the prediction made by this blog before Christmas, where I predicted correctly 19 of the 21 picks! The two races which I got wrong were Japan and Hungary. The ordering of picks would have been substantially different from pick eight onwards. In my original piece, I said it was between Australia and Hungary. I thought Sky would have taken Hungary over Australia, in reality it looks like they went in the opposite direction, allowing Channel 4 to pick Hungary. That’s probably the only surprise for me, as I anticipated, the picks are skewed towards the latter half of the season.
Update on February 1st – The FIA have now confirmed the timings of every session for 2016. The bad news for Channel 4 is, because of FOM’s insistence to clash Baku with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the qualifying session with Azerbaijan now runs from 14:00 to 15:00. Which means it clashes with the Royal Ascot. Looking at the schedule on the Royal Ascot website, I would expect both The Chesham Stakes and The Wolferton Rated Stakes air on More4, with Channel 4 joining at around 15:20.